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Columbus C. Gough, Tema Cemetery

October 1 was my 50th birthday. It’s okay if you forgot, you can still send me presents.  To celebrate, the Spousal Unit and I did one of our favorite things: picked a direction and drove. There were lots of parks along 301 North, but I didn’t feel like stopping at them today. We didn’t find anything particularly quirky, but we did find four lovely cemeteries.

The SU is good at spotting cemeteries while I drive. Mind you, he doesn’t actually like cemeteries. He does this because he loves me.  The first one he spotted was Tema Cemetery, right along the highway, but small and unassuming.

A concrete alligator amongst the many offerings on a child's grave

A concrete alligator amongst the many offerings on a child’s grave

Praying hands by a temporary marker

Praying hands by a temporary marker

Tema was lovely, with the older graves in the latter half of the 19th century, as is the usual with most of the graveyards in this area.

These guys aren't going anywhere

These guys aren’t going anywhere

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Genteel decay

Sumterville was larger, with odd, unkempt tangles in the corners that contained surprisingly new graves. Telling was the sign asking for upkeep donations. I happen to like overgrown boneyards, so, no help from this corner.

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Sacred to the memory

Dr. Henry

Dr. Henry

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Just Marsh

There were many Marshes. One of my favorite names from the bunch: Aunt Piety Marsh.

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W.M. Cocowitch.

Most photographic memorials are more recent, but W.M. died in 1921, at the age of 23. If I were going to be any kind of witch, it would definitely be a cocowitch.

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Her right wing is at her feet

This is but one grave gift of many on another child’s grave.

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Nature leaves a rose

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A rock marks an unknown grave. Bet there’s a story here.

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Made beautiful by time

Twice marked

Twice marked, Dade City

The largest burying ground of our tour was Dade City. I, of course, gravitated to the west end, where the older stones were.

Rough-hewn memorial

Rough-hewn memorial

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“Darling, we miss thee.”

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Just peeking out

Several of the stones had sunken until just a few inches remained above ground.

If my name were Texas, I'd keep it after marriage, too

If my name were Texas, I’d keep it after marriage, too

I think he tried to get out

I think he tried to get out

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and Dade City Women’s Club President for 17 years

My favorite find was the last. We were on a long trek from 301 to I-75, wondering if we were ever going to find an onramp, when I spotted a street called Emmaus Cemetery. Clue to cemetery hunters: there’s usually a graveyard at the end of such streets, and often it takes some work to find. This one did. Just at the end, before a private residence, was a little-used track. Driving back, we found a grove with a small, private cemetery.



I love finding secret, little-used boneyards.

No, J.W. is not going to Hell

No, J.W. is not going to Hell

I was curious about this symbol. The broken chain symbolizes death, and the hand is God plucking the soul to himself.

Gorgeous garden spider

A spiny orb weaver keeps watch

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Few stones here were modern

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Slanting light means it’s time to go home

Some people find abandoned amusement parks. Others explore defunct movie palaces. Me, I found an abandoned trailer park.

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And at that, it was only partially abandoned. It’s on a busy intersection, and is clearly being left to empty by attrition so the land can be sold to a developer.

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The disrepair on the occupied side was almost as bad as the abandoned. I guess children will play anywhere. I know I did.

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While I wandered, I noticed a guy in a Cadillac patrolling the grounds.  He wasn’t bothered by my pictorial adventure.

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I’m the one who should have been bothered, but I didn’t always realize what I was seeing on site. I didn’t even notice the syringes until I looked at the photos later.

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I did notice the bullet holes.

Mostly, I was concentrating on shapes and colors. There were bright blocks, and shiny next to tattered.

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It held an air of desolation, no different than that abandoned amusement park, but perhaps more desperate.

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